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Left Flank Pain- All You Need To Know!
If you have pain in your upper abdomen, sides, or back, the chances are it is left flank pain. Left flank pain usually developed in the region below your ribs and above the pelvis. Usually, the one is worse on any one side of the body. Most people experiences flank pain once at least throughout their lifetime. The discomfort caused due to flank pain is just temporary but in some cases, it might turn out to be worse.
Constat left flank pain or severe attacks can indicate that the condition is serious and needs medical attention. Serious conditions include urinary tract infection or dehydration. Sometimes kidney stones can also cause left flank pain persistently.
Although left flank pain or simply flank pain is due to kidney problems, it can also occur as a result of some other medical condition along with other symptoms. If you are experiencing some other symptoms along with severe pain, you must visit your doctor immediately.
What Are The Causes Of Left Flank Pain
Here are some of the most common causes of flank pain that you should keep in mind:
- Infection in kidneys
- Kidney abscess
- Kidney stones
- Bladder infection
- Spinal fracture
- Tietze’s syndrome
- Arthritis (spinal arthritis)
- A pinched nerve in the back
- Disc diseases
- Muscle spasms.
These were all the causes, less common causes that can cause left flank pain include:
- Kidney diseases
- Abdominal aortic aneurysm
- Renal infarct, it occurs when a blood clot occurs blocking the blood supply to your kidneys.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease
There are many symptoms associated with flank pain, they differ based on the case of flank pain. These include:
When the cause is a kidney problem
The pain might be due to a kidney problem if you are suffering from all the symptoms given below:
- pain during urination
- blood in urine
You should seek immediate help from the doctors if you are facing any such issue as it might be a result of kidney problems that need to be diagnosed for early treatment.
When the cause is dehydration
Another condition or cause of left flank pain that requires immediate action. If you are facing persistent pain with the symptoms given below you should consult your doctor as it may be dehydration:
- Extreme thirst
- Decreased urine output
- dark urine
- sticky and try mouth
- fast pulse
- absence of sweat
It is very crucial to correct dehydration immediately. When you lose too much water from your body, the function of organs, tissues, and cells is interrupted and fails sometimes. This can lead to more dangerous conditions and cause complications in health including shock.
When The Cause Is Muscle Problems
The muscles of the back, stomach, or chest can also cause flank pain. Some common causes include:
- Muscle injuries like sprains or strains
- A sedentary lifestyle, which means an individual does not move enough.
- Remaining in a position that is a physically stressful or unusual position for a long time.
Flank pain usually occurs on the side of the muscle that is injured. However, when the cause of flank pain is a sedentary lifestyle, the person will experience symptoms of left flank pain as well as right flank pain. Muscle pain can be quite intense but the intensity alone cannot determine how severe the injury is. It is always recommended to visit a doctor.
When The Cause Is Shingles
This is an infection that causes blistering rashes that are extremely painful. Anyone who has suffered from chickenpox may also develop shingles. This infection is usually more common in adults whose immune systems weaken with age.
This skin condition usually begins as a burning feeling or prickly pain starting from the nervous system. After several days, a rash of fluid blisters is seen.
In some people, this can be severe and cause infections that may be life-threatening. People suffering from HIV, or taking immunosuppressants should seek help from doctors and take an immediate appointment if they have something like shingles.
Shingles mainly affect only one side of the body so people will see all the symptoms related to left flank pain or right flank pain.
When you take an appointment with the doctor, they will try to look for an underlying condition that can cause flank pain. Be prepared to tell your doctor about the following questions:
- Location of the pain
- Any other symptoms you have been facing
- How long do you have the pain
- How often you experience pain
- When does the pain start
- what does this pain feel like
The doctors can also use imaging tests and blood tests to find out the cause of left flank pain. Imaging tests are conducted so that the doctors can look deep inside your body and find out the issue. These tests include x-rays and ultrasounds. They are used for revealing problems in muscles, tissues, and organs.
Before beginning with any of these tests, the doctors might also inject a contrast dye inside the veins. This is done to get clear images and improve the quality of images to understand what is going on. This makes it easy to know any obstructions if present inside the blood vessels. This dye is composed of iodine and it rarely causes any side effects.
Some other diagnostic tests that the doctors can perform include the following:
- Abdominal CT scan. This is a type of specialized x-ray used for showing cross-sectional images of your abdomen to figure out the underlying causes of left flank pain.
- A cystoscopy. It is a minor procedure used for determining what is present inside. In this process, a think tube is inserted inside the bladder with a camera attached.
- A urinalysis. It is just a simple urine test
- A urine culture is always done to detect various bacterias present in urine. This helps find out of the bacteria is possibly causing pain.
When To Visit A Doctor
You should always go to the emergency room and seek urgent help for left flank pain or right flank pain if they occur with the following:
- Pale stool, fever, or yellow skin and eyes
- Intense vomiting
- Blood in the urine
- Flank pain due to injury especially when it is a blow to the back or side.
People can visit a doctor within a day if the symptoms are as follows:
- Painful rashes
- Tingling or numbness in the legs
- Intense pain that is getting worse with time
- Pain while urinating
If the pain is moderate or mild and the symptoms are very few, you can expect the flank pain to be due to some muscle strain. If this is the scenario then the pain will go away once you take enough rest.
Treatment For Left Flank Pain
The primary treatment you can take if you left flank pain is plenty of rest. Usually, if the flank pain is minor, it will be resolved by itself within a few times by a combination of physical therapies and rest. When you visit a doctor they might also tell you about some form of exercises to form if you catch flank pain to provide quick relief from muscle spasms.
Left flank pain and inflammation
If the flank pain is a result of inflammation in your body, it can occur with arthritis or infections. The treatment generally depends upon the specific condition that causes it. When the infection is prevalent in kidneys, hospitalization may be required soon. The doctors generally give antibiotics in such cases when suffering from kidney infections. These antibiotics can be taken as medications or given intravenously.
Exercise programs and physical therapies are often found great to treat pain if it is caused due to arthritis in the spine. The doctors can also prescribe certain anti-inflammatory medications used for reducing inflammation and discomfort due to pain. In some cases when the condition gets severe, people need surgery for spinal problems corrections.
Treatment For Flank Pain When Caused By Kidney Stones
This will require you to take a lot of medications to reduce pain and drink plenty of fluids so that kidney stones can be passed. In most cases, surgeries are not required to remove kidney stones.
However, the doctors might perform a minor procedure known as lithotripsy if the kidney stones are larger and they cannot exit from the body with lots of fluids during urination. This procedure includes high-frequency sound waves. The waves are used for breaking the stones into tiny pieces so that they can be removed easily through the ureters.
Ureters are tubes for carrying the urine from your kidneys to the bladder so that it is excreted out. Sometimes the doctors may use surgical techniques and procedures to remove kidney stones, this will provide relief from left flank pain.
Depending upon how much pain you are going through, the doctors can prescribe some over-the-counter medications to get relief from pain. You might also have to stay in the hospital for a while. You must inform your doctor if you are facing intense left flank pain even after the treatment is done, chances are it may be due to another condition that needs treatment.
If you already have faced left flank pain, there are few techniques you can use to prevent it in the future. These tips include:
- Drinking plenty of water every day (at least 8 glasses)
- Limiting the amount of alcohol you consume. This can be a cause of flank pain in many people.
- Practicing proper hygiene and safe sex. This is important to avoid flank pain and a lot of other diseases.
- Eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, lean protein, fluids, etc.
- Working out or exercising at least 3 times a week can also be useful to reduce flank pain.
This was all you needed to know about left flank pain, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention tips involved.